Melanoma Facts

Melanoma Facts

  • One person dies of melanoma every hour.
1 in 50 people in the US will be diagnosed with melanoma during their lifetime.
  • Of the seven most common cancers in the US, melanoma is the only one whose incidence is increasing.
  • Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer combined.

Melanoma and UV Exposure

  • About 86% of melanomas can be attributed to exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.
  • A person’s risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had more than five sunburns.
  • Just one blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence more than double a person’s chance of developing melanoma later in life.
  • Regular daily use of an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen reduces the risk of developing melanoma by 50% and of developing squamous cell carcinoma by 40%.
  • The Tanning Risk: Just one indoor tanning session increases users’ chances of developing melanoma by 20%.
    • More people develop skin cancer because of tanning than lung cancer because of smoking.

Who is at Risk?

  • Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old and the second most common form of cancer for young people 15-29 years old.
  • 1 in 35 men and 1 in 54 women will develop melanoma in their lifetime.
  • Women under 40 have a higher probability of developing melanoma than any other cancer except breast cancer.
  • The majority of people diagnosed with melanoma are white men over age 50.
  • Melanomas in African Americans, Asians, Filipinos, Indonesians, and native Hawaiians most often occur on non-exposed skin with less pigment, with up to 60-75% of tumors arising on the palms, soles, mucous membranes and nail regions.

Melanoma Survival Rate

  • The survival rate with melanoma has increased to 92% (1996 – 2003).
  • Survivors of melanoma are about nine times as likely as the general population to develop a new melanoma.
  • The overall 5-year survival rate for patients whose melanoma is detected early is about 98% in the US. The survival rate falls to 62% when the disease reaches the lymph nodes, and 15% when the disease metastasizes to distant organs.